By Rob McKenna, State Attorney General, Tri-City Herald
Clyde Dale Loshbaugh is a level-three registered sex offender - the kind most likely to re-offend. His criminal mind is obsessed with children.
Loshbaugh's most recent arrest came just a few weeks ago, at the same time the Legislature is considering what to do to protect the public from people like him.
Loshbaugh took his virus-infected laptop to a Seattle-area repair shop, where police say a computer repairman found thousands of graphic images of child sexual abuse.
This case is a reminder that those who regularly access child pornography aren't harmless web surfers. They pose a real threat to kids.
Like so many users of child pornography, Loshbaugh has also physically abused children. His past crimes include molesting a 6-year-old girl, sexually assaulting other children and trying to make pornography with teen girls. This behavior is typical. Looking at child pornography and molesting kids go together.
Still not concerned about child pornography? That may be because you're not aware of the kinds of images found when people like Loshbaugh are arrested. Among the horrors, depictions of crying children - including babies and toddlers - being raped. Just the idea shocks and disgusts us. But for some dangerous people, these images are arousing. That arousal leads to horrible crimes.
Research by the Federal Bureau of Prisons found that 76 percent of offenders convicted of possessing child porn admitted to molesting children without being caught. Offenders confessed to an average of 30 child victims.
This is an urgent matter because demand for child pornography is up, and the only way to produce this material is to sexually abuse children.
Unfortunately, the internet has increased the number of kids being victimized, bringing new opportunities for current and aspiring sex offenders. Web cameras, cell phones, file-sharing sites and other technologies make the process of abusing kids for entertainment - and profit - much easier.
John Carr, of the British nonprofit Action for Children, told the Guardian newspaper, "The increased demand has made child pornography into big business and the consequences for children in all parts of the world are horrifying."
His organization is among those tracking the increase of child sexual abuse directly related to widespread access to the Internet.
That's why we've crafted legislation to attack the child pornography industry. Our proposal, HB 2424 and SB 6397, has two major elements. First, it makes it a felony to intentionally view child pornography on the internet. This allows prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person repeatedly accessed these illegal files on the internet.
Second, our bill responds to a state Supreme Court decision that effectively allows a volume discount for possessing child pornography. Under current law, an offender caught with thousands of images and videos of children being sexually abused may only face a single count of possession.
If passed, prosecutors may file multiple counts when warranted. This gives us a chance to keep some of the most dangerous child sex predators behind bars for longer - and away from your kids.
This legislation is sponsored by Tri-Cities legislators, including Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, and Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick.
You might think that passing a bill restricting child pornography is easy. But we presented a similar bill in 2008 and 2009. The bill passed the House unanimously in 2008, only to die on the floor of the Senate.
In 2009, it was bottled up and died in a Senate committee. This year, the Senate's version of our bill has already been allowed to die in the committee process. But there's still time for state legislators to adopt these common sense protections for our state's kids by supporting HB 2424.
Now is the time to act to protect kids from sexual abuse.